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Many of these fall under the boring- but-important category, however as we head towards Easter and April (typically when a lot of employment law changes are implemented) here are the key employment changes that you should be aware of:

 1. National Living Wage Introduced

You may have been holidaying on Mars to avoid hearing about this one before, however a significant change for the lowest-paid workers in the UK is the introduction of the national living wage on 1 April 2016. This new minimum ‘living wage’ of £7.20 per hour will be introduced for all workers who are at least 25 years of age and companies who don’t comply could face fines of up to £20,000 per employee.

For those aged under 25, lower national minimum wage rates will still apply.

2. No change to Statutory Parental Pay Rates And Sick Pay 

The Government has announced that the annual increase in the weekly rate of statutory maternity pay (SMP), statutory paternity pay (SPP), statutory adoption pay (SAP) and statutory shared parental pay (SPP) will not happen in 2016 and will remain at the current rate of £139.58 per week. Although the rates normally increase every year, a fall in the consumer prices index has meant the government have given no uplift for 2016/17.

Same goes for Statutory sick pay (SSP), which will also remain the same at a rate of £88.45 per week.

3. New Rules To Protect Apprenticeships

In 2016 the Government will be tackling organisations that use the term “apprenticeship” in job adverts where it is applied to describe a scheme that is not a statutory apprenticeship.

There will also be an apprenticeship target for public-sector organisations and employer National Insurance Contributions (NIC) will be abolished for apprentices aged under 25 with effect from 6th April 2016.

4. Workers Given Power To Seek Redress Where Employer Ignores Ban On Exclusivity Clauses

As you may know already, exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts were banned in 2015 however new regulations that apply from 11 January 2016 aimed at addressing avoidance of the ban, give employees the power to make a complaint to an employment tribunal where they have been dismissed or subjected to a detriment following breach of an exclusivity clause.

5. Gender Pay Gap Reporting

All employers which employ at least 250 employees – be they private companies or voluntary sector organisations – will be required to publish information showing whether or not there are differences in gender pay. Crucially, this will also need to include details of the gap in bonus payments – traditionally the least transparent element of pay.

Further details on what this will mean for employers, including what they will need to publish and where, is yet to be disclosed but the proposed penalty for non-compliance with the new measures is a fine of up to £5,000.

 6. State Pension Regulations 2015 Come Into Force

A new single-tier, flat-rate pension will affect people who reach State Pension age (currently 67) from 6th April 2016 onwards, providing that individual has contributed at least 35 qualifying years of national insurance contributions.

7. Trade Union Law Amended

The Trade Union Bill reforms the law applying to trade unions, including placing more stringent requirements on trade unions before they can take industrial action. It’s fair to say it’s not been a popular introduction The measures include:

  • increasing the voting threshold to 50%;
  • introducing a requirement that 40% of all those entitled to vote in the ballot, vote in favour of industrial action in important public services;
  • setting a four-month time limit for industrial action after the ballot;
  • Increasing the amount of notice to be given to an employer of strike action.
  • give government officials right to fine Unions up to £20k for breaches in reporting rules

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Photo Credit: Lego Legal Team by Maia Weinstock